Princess Beatrice’s hat auction for £81,100.01 is the third highest charity sale on eBay UK. The Goldsmiths student’s decision to flog the dusty pink pretzel-shaped bonnet she wore to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton caused a global Internet frenzy.
Just a few hours after the ceremony at Westminster Abbey a Facebook group called Princess Beatrice’s Ridiculous Hat had more than 12,400 followers. That number has since risen to 143,667.
Designer Philip Treacy, who created the ‘fascinator’ hat, defended the Princess, calling her controversial headgear ‘gorgeous and fashionable’.
Judging by the eBay auction, there are many people who agree.
Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne offered £5,000 to get things going and Australian performers The Wiggles chipped in with a £17,500 offer.
In total, 40 unique bidders made 114 bids in 10 days with the proceeds of the sale going to UNICEF UK and Children in Crisis.
Shoppers in London’s Portobello Road said the charity auction had made the best of an embarrassing situation.
“It was very off the top but I’m sure she couldn’t have realised the controversy she was going to cause with it. It’s pretty ugly but I feel really sorry for her that it caused the uproar that it did,” one woman said.
“I think, actually, it’s probably a really nice thing that she’s done and donating the money to charity has turned a really embarrassing siuation into something quite nice.”
Another young woman said: “I think it’s really horrible. I mean being compared to Kate Middleton and her sister and how amazing they looked and her and her sister being called the ugly step sisters and compared to a bad fairytale – it’s the most humiliating thing.
“I don’t envy her at all and I think she’s coped with it really, really, really gracefully actually.”
Most people were sympathetic to the attention the 22-year-old received but they were not always so kind about the hat.
“I think that hat was too much, especially for a princess, I think it was ridiculous. I never thought somebody would want to buy that hat,” one woman said.
“I’m surprised it went for that much money, I thought the hat was terrible but I don’t agree with the criticism,” Another woman told East London Lines.
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The identity of the winning bidder is still not known but Princess Beatrice said she is delighted with the amount of money it raised to help vulnerable children around the world.
The auction has attracted global media coverage. Bidding and viewing of the process was so intense there was a slight technical hitch on Saturday, possibly caused by the huge number of ‘hits’ the site has been receiving because of the support for the fund-raising initiative.
The condition of the hat is described as: “Used: An item that has been previously worn.” Even the colour, described as “Tea Rose” has been a matter of intense debate. Is it chocolate, or a light brown?
For those who find it difficult to summon up words to describe or define the hat the eBay auction page has an answer: “unique scultpural celebratory headpiece…This is a gravity defying hat!”
The Goldsmiths history student’s Royal Wedding hat story has become a global talking point and online sensation.
Unicef UK has released a statement from the Princess which said:
I am so grateful to all those who have taken the time to participate in the auction. I know that with all their support we are going to make a real difference in providing education, healthcare and support to children who are most in need. This has been such a wonderful project to be a part of, working with Children in Crisis and UNICEF has been a fantastic partnership. I look forward with excitement to playing a part in providing other chileren with the great education I have been so lucky to have had.
Hat designer Philip Treacy said:
I have been surprised by the overwhelming response ‘to the hat.’ Isabella Blow introduced me to the magic of ‘the hat’! I’m delighted, flattered and touched by HRH Princess Beatrice’s decision to donate the hat to charity.
Koy Thomson, chief executive of Children in Crisis said:
We would like to thank the bidder for this extraordinarily generous bid, earning yourself a place in history, making lives better for terribly disadvantaged children, and getting a very striking hat.
Students at Goldsmiths were divided on the hat’s aesthetic qualities though there was much support for Princess Bea’s fundraising initiative.